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Why I don’t want my son to become a journalist

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My dear son,

I know that you are very angry with us over the argument we had with you yesterday regarding your career plans. We realize that we may have been a bit harsh with you. But believe us; as your parents, what we said was purely out of concern we had for your future.

I know that you have grown up idolizing your mother and me and want to grow up and become a journalist like us. But I request you to read this letter with a calm mind for our sake.

I apologize for my aggressive and intimidating behavior yesterday. Now let me explain why I don’t want you to become a journalist.

You of course realize that we live in a world which is changing at a scary pace putting many vocations at risk. You may have read that automation is likely to lead to loss of a large percentage of jobs in the Indian IT and BPO industry. Self-driven cars will make drivers jobs obsolete. The rise of smart phones and social media has the owner of our favorite Mutton Biryani food joint worried because he is unable to compete against the likes of Foodpanda and Zomato.

We as journalists keep debating all the time about how every other profession is at risk due to automation, social media and the leap of technology. But very few journalists are willing to introspect. I happen to be one of them.

The noble profession of journalism is the most at risk due to the winds of change. Once upon a time, journalists were held in high esteem in society. Today, it is no longer so. We are called all kinds of names.

The social media has reduced the tyranny of distance for becoming a journalist. Today anyone with a smart phone can do what a journalist does, maybe much better. Due to this, there is no more room for creativity and imagination left in this profession, not even for small ones like imagining an unrelated person as the Vice Chancellor of the Banaras Hindu University. You are reduced to reporting the cold, dull, drab, bare facts.

Also, journalism does not require much skills, unlike say farming or dentistry. So you will be time and again proved wrong by the ordinary people- people who have no class. You will never see a farmer’s, barber’s or computer programmer’’s work questioned and proved wrong on public platforms.

There was a time when journalists used to influence the public mood. Now, it is the other way round. For example, look at how the rowdy behavior of the classless people at Madison Square influenced me.

Moreover, after a tiring day job, no one has the energy and more importantly the skills to fact check the work done by an electrician, mason or tailor and prove him wrong. However, since journalism is not a skilled job, many people take out time to fact check and point out flaws in the work of a journalist. These folks working part time without getting paid are the greatest challenge to our paid media profession. Then there are some people like Mediacrooks who have decided to work full time for free and put our livelihoods at risk.

We had made a detailed study of various castes and sub castes in India so as to authoritatively predict election outcome but nowadays people do not vote on expected lines. Just goes to show whatever little skills we had also getting outdated. To add insult to injury, people with poor English grammar challenge us on facts.

Nowadays divisive leaders directly communicate with the masses leaving us high and dry. The good old days when journalists were like Lord Shiva who took the Ganga on his head before passing it to the common man are gone.

The example of Ganga above was just to provide a good analogy for explanation. Please do not show this letter to your mom. If she reads this, she will call me an Internet Hindu. Just a few days back she was shocked that workers of a political party were celebrating an election victory by eating saffron colored laddos.

To tell you the truth, I am now fed up of this profession but I have to drag myself every day to work knowing that abuses are all I will get for the day’s hard work. The profession of journalism has lost its moral compass.

So, my dear son, please chose your career wisely. Please take this as a sage advice coming from an old monk.

Your loving and doting father.

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